LEWISTON — A depot for human milk donations — destined to help babies in need — opened at Central Maine Medical Center March 7, making CMMC the third hospital in Maine serving hundreds of families in the Northeast.
A milk depot is a community location where screened milk donors can drop off milk for shipment to a central milk bank, where it will be screened, pasteurized and tested. Donors are mothers who have more milk than their babies need; it is dispensed primarily to premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough milk for them. Mothers from the Lewiston area will now be able to drop off their milk conveniently at the depot for shipment to the milk bank.
CMMC is working in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, which has 24 depots in nine states.
“The presence of a milk depot signifies a deep commitment to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of the community — the fragile babies whose lives depend on safe, pasteurized donor milk,” said Ann Marie Lindquist, director of community relations for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are delighted to partner with Central Maine Medical Center to serve the community in this way.”
CMMC celebrated its new depot recently on the mezzanine level of the hospital at 60 High St. The family-friendly reception included refreshments and an opportunity to meet previous milk donors and learn more about the program.
Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician approval and a blood test. Milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or families.
Human milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis, which affects one in 10 of the smallest preterm infants. Human breast milk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79 percent. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Mothers who wish to donate milk can review guidelines on the milk bank website, www.milkbankne.org/donate, then contact a donor intake coordinator for screening at 617-527-6263 ext. 3 or firstname.lastname@example.org.